Skip to comments.Mitt, pols wary of Hub plea for DNC $$
Posted on 11/15/2002 9:42:44 AM PST by Jean S
Transforming Boston's Democratic party into a day-after hangover, Republican Gov.-Elect Mitt Romney and Democratic State House leaders are frowning on City Hall pleas for millions of taxpayer dollars to pay for the 2004 Democratic national convention.
``We don't want to spend taxpayer funds for corporate welfare or political welfare,'' Romney said. ``I'm delighted the convention is coming here, but of course our responsibility is to safeguard the funds of the taxpayers and to use them wisely.''
Senate Ways and Means Chairman Mark C. Montigny, a New Bedford Democrat, said, ``The city of Boston, with the tremendous benefits, needs to not look up the hill but to look within.
``I'm not being a scrooge,'' Montigny added. ``There is no money. There's a big black hole.''
The injection of money talk put a damper on the heady celebrations over Boston's convention coup, jolting elected officials with the reminder that the state is struggling with a structural deficit approaching $2 billion.
City officials and the MBTA had pledged $17.5 million in government subsidies to lure the convention to Boston, alongside an unprecedented $20 million commitment from the private sector.
Given the state's dire fiscal straits, Romney repeatedly hammered home that he wouldn't loosen the public purse strings unless convention organizers detail substantial dividends to state taxpayers.
He pointed to the Winter Olympics in Utah, where taxpayers were repaid every penny they put up for infrastructure construction, ``plus a very large bonus on top of it.''
``If an investment is required (for the convention), it must have a very good return to be considered if it's going to come from public sources,'' Romney said.
Despite the tough talk, Romney headed off a potential public relations wreck with Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, the convention's No. 1 cheerleader and a formidable ally - or foe.
Romney called Menino immediately after the press conference to warn him that questions had been raised, and to ask about the city's needs and offer his Olympics expertise, Menino later told the Herald.
``He said, `We know how valuable this is as an economic development tool and I want to be there working with you on it,' '' Menino said. ``I'm pretty satisfied that the governor-elect wants to make this as successful as possible.''
Nevertheless, Romney made no promises of state financial support - which Menino insisted would become necessary, even after the city appeals to the federal government for money to beef up security.
Menino noted that the state will receive any convention-related boosts in sales and meals taxes, as well as additional income taxes expected to be generated by the creation of 5,000 new jobs.
``It's a financial benefit for the state,'' Menino said. ``They're the ones who really reap the benefits of a convention more than the city would.''
State House leaders pointed the finger right back at Boston, suggesting that the city shake down anyone with a financial stake in the convention - taxi companies, hoteliers, restaurants and bars.
But fiscal watchdogs questioned the state's ability to pitch in, given the magnitude of the existing crisis, which is expected to persist over the next several years.
``Any subsidy for the convention would likely come out of a direct program or service,'' said Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Michael Widmer.
Advocates for social and human service programs, which have been shredded by the fiscal crisis, were appalled at the specter of enduring even further cuts for the sake of a political bash.
Human Services Coalition Director Stephen Collins said convention organizers ought to lean heavily on the private sector, which he said harvested ``corporate welfare'' from the tax breaks of the 1990s.
``At a time when we lack the capacity to provide the security of a simple shelter bed to hundreds of homeless persons every night of the year, I would hate to see our limited public resources used to provide security and luxury shelter for partying politicians,'' Collins said.
House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran could not be reached yesterday, but has a long history of rejecting taxpayer subsidies for private enterprise. He opposed the use of public funds for a new Patriots stadium and Red Sox ballpark.
Creation of Jobs? For how long? 4 days? How stupid.
If only he was pro-2A....